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condition: obsessive compulsive disorder

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Treatment of OCD using CBT starts with a comprehensive assessment of the key features of the problem. This involves identifying typical situations in which problems occur, and then clarifying the nature of the person’s thoughts and obsessions, their emotions, physical sensations, and the actions taken in an effort to resolve unpleasant thoughts and feelings.

It can be helpful to draw up a list of rituals that the individual carries out, and also situations that are avoided due to the OCD. This can provide a valuable insight into the impact of the problems caused by the OCD, and can then be used as a set of targets that can be worked towards within therapy, in a manageable, step by step approach.

Practising new strategies in typical problem situations, rather than responding by carrying out acts to get rid of anxiety immediately, allows the opportunity to discover whether fears driving the anxiety are well-founded, or whether they have actually become exaggerated and distorted.

Clearly, addressing OCD requires commitment and courage. However, steps taken to tackle this will be decided collaboratively in therapy sessions, and will be approached in a gradual, step by step manner in an attempt to ensure that this distressing problem is dealt with as effectively as possible.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common anxiety disorder that affects up to approximately 2% of the population. It is characterised by repetitive thoughts (obsessions) and actions (compulsions). The individual may therefore experience a reoccurring thought that causes anxiety and consequently feel compelled to act in response to this, to get rid of the anxiety as quickly as possible.

Most common types of OCD are:

  • Fear of contamination and subsequent cleaning rituals
  • Unwanted and intrusive thoughts, frequently associated with the fear that the person may act on these in a dangerous, or immoral way
  • Fear that something bad will happen, unless the person acts in a particular way, such as repeatedly checking that doors are locked

The thoughts and actions involved in OCD can become so time consuming and distressing that the person may struggle to manage usual day to day activities, work and family life. The effort required to manage the problem may become exhausting and demoralising, leading to further anxiety and depression.

Fortunately, OCD generally responds well to treatment. CBT is listed within the National Institute for Clinical Excellence Guidelines for OCD (2006) as the psychological treatment of choice for this problem.


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Mindfulness Courses

These new courses are now being offered in Southwell, running for eight weeks at the Old Courthouse, Burgage Green, Southwell. The Mindfulness courses are... Read More

the therapists

Dr Tim Sweeney

Dr Tim Sweeney

Postgraduate Diploma (Cognitive Therapy), BSc (Hons), Specialist Practitioner - Mental Health, BA (Hons), Diploma in Nursing - Mental Health... Read More

What Is CBT?

Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is a form of talking therapy that looks at how you think about yourself, the world and other people, and... Read more


All discussions that take place in your therapy sessions are treated as confidential...


What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common anxiety disorder that affects up to approximately 2%...